GATA represents a highly conserved family of transcription factors reported in organisms ranging from fungi to angiosperms. A member of this family, OsGATA8, localized within the Saltol QTL in rice, has been reported to be induced by salinity, drought, and ABA. However, its precise role in stress tolerance has not yet been elucidated. Using genetic, molecular, and physiological analyses, in this study we show that OsGATA8 increases seed size and tolerance to abiotic stresses in both Arabidopsis and rice. Transgenic lines of rice were generated with 3-fold overexpression of OsGATA8 compared to the wild-type together with knockdown lines with 2-fold lower expression. The overexpressing lines showed higher biomass accumulation and higher photosynthetic efficiency in seedlings compared to the wild-type and knockdown lines under both normal and salinity-stress conditions. OsGATA8 appeared to be an integrator of diverse cellular processes, including K+/Na+ content, photosynthetic efficiency, relative water content, Fv/Fm ratio, and the stability to sub-cellular organelles. It also contributed to maintaining yield under stress, which was ~46% higher in overexpression plants compared with the wild-type. OsGATA8 produced these effects by regulating the expression of critical genes involved in stress tolerance, scavenging of reactive oxygen species, and chlorophyll biosynthesis.
Keywords: Oryza sativa; Saltol QTL; Drought; GATA; RNAi; overexpression; salinity; tolerance; transcription factor; yield.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Experimental Biology.
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